Schools close as teachers go on strike

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A number of schools across the county have closed their doors today as members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) take strike action.

Combs Ford Primary, Great Finborough CEVC Primary, Honington CEVC Primary and Riverwalk School are among those fully closed with Beck Row Primary, Chilton Community Primary, Elmsett CEVC Primary, Stowmarket High School and Westgate Community Primary shut for part of the day.

Members of the union voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike action to protect pay and working conditions, demanding an increase in funding and a resumption of negotiations on teacher contracts.

Six members of staff at St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds joined the strike although headteacher Hugh O’Neill said due to the relatively small number, it was not necessary to ask pupils to remain at home.

He said: ““I know that the vast majority of teachers at St Benedict’s share the concerns of their striking colleagues, and I am sure this is true across a great many schools.

“Not all teachers believe that strike action is something they would themselves take, but this should not be mistaken for acceptance of the real impact being felt by schools as the real value of school funding falls.

“I would defend any teacher’s right to withdraw their labour over issues as important as these.

I hope that the Department for Education does not ignore or belittle the concerns of the teaching profession for the future of education.”

Kevin Courtney, Acting General Secretary of the NUT said: ““The NUT is not taking action lightly. In light of the huge funding cuts to schools, worsening terms and conditions, and unmanageable and exhausting workloads, teachers cannot be expected to go on without significant change.

“The effects on children’s education are also real and damaging. As a result of school funding cuts, class sizes in primary and secondary schools are increasing, subject choices are being cut, and children are getting less individual attention as teachers and support staff are made redundant or not replaced when they leave.

“There is worse to come, with the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicting that the biggest real terms cuts to per pupil funding in a generation are on the way.

“There is already a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in our schools.

“Without significant change to the pay and working condition of teachers, this will simply deepen.

“We know that many parents share our concerns.”